Farewell Benedict XVI

Nearly eight years ago, I know exactly where I was when I heard the joyful news that there was a new Bishop of Rome. I was working in an office, and turned on BBC Radio 4, and heard the ringing of the bells of St Peter’s. I knew then, in my heart, that there was a leader for the world’s Roman Catholics.

At the time, I did not foresee that the man elected that day would resign as Bishop of Rome. As we all know, it is not a decision that has many precedents, but it has been known. As the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Church says,

Can. 332 §2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.

This is clearly in the CCL but it has not been used before since the promulgation of the new code in 1983. However, it does seem a sensible move by Benedict XVI.

It is not that long ago since Bishops of Dioceses did not retire: they died in office. I don’t have the relevant reference to hand, but it appears to have started to change in the 1960s. For instance, in the Diocese of Down and Connor in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century:

1895 1908 Henry Henry Appointed 16 August; consecrated 22 September 1895; died 8 March 1908.
1908 1914 John Tohill Appointed 5 August; consecrated 20 September 1908; died 4 July 1914.
1915 1928 Joseph MacRory Appointed 18 August; consecrated 14 November 1915; translated toArmagh 22 June 1928.
1929 1962 Daniel Mageean Appointed 31 May; consecrated 25 August 1929; died 18 January 1962.
1962 1982 William Philbin Translated from Clonfert; appointed 5 June 1962; retired 24 August 1982; died 23 August 1991.
1982 1990 Cahal Daly Translated from Ardagh and Clonmacnoise; appointed 24 August 1982; translated to Armagh 6 November 1990.
1991 2008 Patrick Walsh Appointed titular bishop of Ros Cré and auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor on 6 April 1983; ordained bishop 15 May 1983; appointed diocesan bishop of Down and Connor on 18 March 1991; retired 22 February 2008.

(from Wikipedia.org)

It can be clearly seen that the first Bishop of Down & Connor to resign in modern time rather than die in office was Bishop William Philbin, who resigned in August 1982, and died some time later in 1991.

To me it seems eminently sensible that the Bishop of Rome also has the chance to resign and I am pleased that Benedict XVI has started the practice by doing so himself.

I wish him every blessing in his retirement and assure him of my prayers and those of my brother priests in the Fraternity. We will be celebrating Votive Masses pro eligendo Summo Pontifice on days that are not Feasts or Solemnities until the election of the new Bishop of Rome. The Vicar General will issue an instruction as to the correct wording to be used in the Eucharistic Prayer to all Priests of the Fraternity.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Christmas Message to Scouts

World Scout BadgeThe good news that the holy angels first told to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, is still the greatest story to be told.

Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

The Scout Movement spreads a message of peace across the world as it was asked to do by its Founder, Robert Baden-Powell OM,

To-day I send you out from Arrowe to all the world, bearing my symbol of Peace and Fellowship, each one of you my ambassador, bearing my message of Love and Fellowship on the wings of Sacrifice and Service, to the ends of the world. From now on the Scout Symbol of peace is the Golden Arrow. Carry it fast and far that all men may know the Brotherhood of Man”—B.-P. Scouting for Boys, Camp Fire Yarn No. 28.

Scouts all over the world are taking part in the Scout Messengers of Peace programme as part of the Movement’s aim to ‘Create a Better World’.

AMOP_enll over the world, Scouts are running projects that help people. They solve conflicts in school by preventing bullying, lead peer education programs, help the poor and the hungry, create solutions to environmental problems, and run countless other service projects. Messengers of Peace is the initiative that brings all of this work together.

As we continue to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace and to follow His teaching, my brother Priests in the Fraternity and I pray that all Scouts and those connected to them have a happy and blessed Christmas and that the Peace of the newborn Christ Child will descend upon all and remain with us all throughout the year.

Enhanced by Zemanta

O Sapientia — ‘the way of prudence’

The first of the Great O Antiphons1 today gives us the sign that in Advent we are drawing closer to Christmas.

Looking at today’s Antiphon, O Wisdom, we find a translation

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly.  Come, and teach us the way of prudence.2

Prudence is not something we hear about very often, it’s not a word that I encounter on the streets of the city. Yet it is one that would be useful for us all to remember. Prudence is ‘the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason.’

I pray that we all will use the reasoning that our God gave us, as we discern our paths in life.

Notes

1.  Fr William Saunders gives some background to them in his article reproduced on Catholic Education Resource Center.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thoughts on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady

Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse

Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse

Pope Benedict ⅩⅥ, the Bishop of Rome, has said that “on the path of Advent shines the star of Mary Immaculate”, and without her part in history we should not have received our Blessed Lord as the Child-King of Bethlehem. Without Our Lady saying, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me” to the angel Gabriel, in today’s Gospel,  there would have been no conception of Jesus, no Incarnation, no Passion, no Cross, no Resurrection, and no Ascension, and today we would not be waiting for the Second Coming of Christ.

Read the rest of my thoughts here

Quote

The Ceremonial of Bishops – by Abbot Cuthbert Johnston OSB

In the Rule of St Benedict chapter 48 the Abbot is instructed to give each monk at the beginning of Lent “a book from the library, which shall read be through consecutively” from cover to cover, during the days of Lent.

While the Ceremonial of Bishops is not a book that I would readily give to a monk for his Lenten reading, but it is a work which if read from beginning to end will provide valuable insights. Such an undertaking might appear to be a rather daunting task and the fact that the Ceremonial of Bishops has been presented as a resource book for those responsible for planning and directing the liturgical ministry of the Bishop, has also contributed towards deterring anyone reading it from cover to cover.

Read the rest here…. 

Bishops and other prelates are permitted the use of a mitre.

Abbot Johnston explains about how ceremonial is important not just for Bishops but for all in the Church. Although he was suggesting that the Ceremonial of Bishops would not be quite a book he would give to a monk for Lenten reading, it will probably form part of my reading as we prepare for the great Feast of Christmas and for the whole new liturgical year that comes after it. As a simple priest, I thought that it didn’t really concern me—but now, as Ordinary of FSDM, I am told that it does. For although I am not a bishop, in some respects I look after my confrères in the way that a Bishop looks after his flock. Some things are allowed to me. These external things are merely pointing towards the internal, that of caring for, and being responsible for the Fraternity. The sheep elected their shepherd. I must act — and look — like one.

Enhanced by Zemanta

“more fraternal than authoritative”: an epistle to the Corinthians

When we hear of an Epistle to the Corinthians, most people will instinctively think of the St Paul the Apostle’s Epistles that are in the Canon of the New Testament, however epistles were being sent from many early Christian leaders to each other all over the known Christian world. This continues to this day, in each diocese all over the world, bishops can and do send pastoral letters to their flocks.

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Clement I, Bishop of Rome and Martyr. While many will regard a letter issued by him to be a letter with the authority of a Pope as the Roman Church understands that authority now, this may not be the case. It has been suggested by some scholars that St Clement’s epistle was “more fraternal than authoritative” – that is that he was not necessarily claiming that Rome was anything other than primus inter pares (first among equals). This is often the position that those of us who are independent Catholics find ourselves adopting or believing. We acknowledge the position of the Holy Father, Benedict ⅩⅥ, but we take his words as we would take the words of another bishop.  Continue reading

How could I say ‘No’, when Our Lady said ‘Yes’?

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Fr Charles FSDM said in his meditation on yesterday’s readings at Mass, ‘we know not the hour, nor the day’ when the Lord will come. We must live everyday as though it is our last, and prepare to meet our Maker each night before we take our sleep. This is the reason that during Compline there is time for recollection of events from the day past and confession for those.

As was stated on our Fraternity’s website, on Friday evening, the Fraternity was inspired by the Holy Spirit to elect me as their first Ordinary for a term of three years. This is a new beginning. When elected, I was asked, ‘Do you accept election?’ I could have said ‘No.’, but would how would that have been saying ‘Yes’ to God? Our Fraternity is under the Protection of Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God. If she, as a young woman could say ‘Yes’ to the message of the angel, then could I refuse the question raised by my confrères. I believed then, as now, that I could not. And so, somewhat surprisedly I said,

If that be the will of God and of this Fraternity, I accept election. I will be at the service of the Fraternity, I am not to be served, but to serve.

I ask that you pray for me as I begin my term of office that I may carry out my duties as our Ordinary with care, diligence, humility and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of All Creation.

Enhanced by Zemanta